If you are financially reeling from the negative effects of COVID-19, you may be feeling overwhelmed. And desperate. Especially if you have had to lay off staff. I know it wasn’t easy for me.

Get Outside Input

Realize these feelings may cloud your judgement. Get support. Get a second opinion – of someone outside the organization. A mentor, a colleague, a coach, maybe even your auditor – just get someone who can advise you when you’re frazzled from everything COVID has brought with it.

Number one, you are going to need the emotional support. It isn’t easy to make cuts. You are probably tired of making hard decisions. And overwhelmed by how many of them you’ve had to make. And it isn’t easy to function in a work environment that where there have been layoffs, inadequate resources, and spiraling need. Now is not the time to be a lone ranger. Now is the time to get outside emotional support.

Number two, high levels of continued stress lead to poor decision-making. Whether you think it or not, your judgement is probably impaired to some extent. And so is everyone else’s in the organization. Including your board. They may be feeling some of the same things you are. Get an outside anchor. If you go it alone, you risk making extremely poor decisions at the expense of your organization.

Change your fundraising mindset

If you are a nonprofit professional, you may think you are raising money for operations. After all, without operations, you cannot deliver your services. And your services are what attracts clients and participants to your organization. You understand your services. To someone who deals with making sure services are delivered effectively to your clients or participants, money for providing services is what it’s all about.

That’s great if you are in charge of operations, finance, or program delivery. And completely wrong if you want to raise money.

With donors, you don’t raise money to meet expenses. You don’t even raise money to provide services. To resonate with donors, you raise money to make an impact on an issue they care about. To fundraise the most effectively, focus on mission, not meeting expenses or providing services or programs. Money and operations and programs and services are just vehicles to make a positive impact in someone’s life. It is the prospect that their donations can help make the positive impact happen that motivates them to give. So, when you are rebuilding financially, the first thing to remember is that meeting operational expenses is a problem donors, at the root of it, don’t care about. Instead, talk to your donors about the life-changing experiences that happen because of their donation.

Free, Online Training

For those auditory and person-to-person learners, I talk about how to grow your nonprofit, especially important after a crisis, in my free, online training From Poor to Prosperous: How to Grow Your Nonprofit in Six Essential Steps which can be found here.

Wrapping It All Up

Budget to growth: make sure revenues are greater than expenses. As you realize positive net income, build reserves and assets. You’ll probably have to make hard decisions. Get the emotional support you need. And you are probably under tremendous amounts of prolonged stress. Outside input can help you keep in check. As you look ask the community to support you financially, focus on the life-changing experience they can make happen by involving themselves with you. And then watch your nonprofit, albeit slowly, get out of the COVD-19 hole.

About the Author

Joanne Oppelt collaborates with nonprofit professionals to help build revenue streams, create sustainable funding, and increase positive net income. Joanne is a seasoned rainmaker with a distinguished track record of success. During her more than 30 years of working in the nonprofit arena, she has built successful fundraising programs at every stop, helping her organizations grow capacity and more effectively fulfill their missions. Joanne is also the author or four books and co-author of twelve.  She can be found at https://www.joanneoppelt.com/